Martijn van Foeken — Member of the Month, February 2020
Martijn van Foeken, our latest entry in the Hall of Fame, has started the year strong, recently receiving the Skillful Solver badge. Then again, he ended last year strong too, earning back-to-back Diligent Solver badges in the final quarter of 2019.
When it comes to Q&A, Martijn is a workhouse. You’ll generally find him answering several questions every weekday. His activity really picked up last fall (which also happens to be when he started getting Diligent Solver badges), and since then, he has responded to hundreds of questions — and dozens of his answers have been accepted.
During that same time period, Martijn also managed to squeeze out two blog posts. His most recent one, published in early November, is standing tall with a respectable view count — approaching six hundred.
In short, Martijn is a well-rounded contributor whose daily activity makes the SAP Community better. And that makes him February’s Member of the Month.
Congratulations, Martijn! Welcome to the Hall of Fame!
Thanks, I’m really honored being selected as Member of the Month. Feels great to be recognized as a true contributor to the SAP Community.
According to your profile, you work for Interdobs B.V., right?
Yes, that correct. I joined Interdobs since September 2016 and I must say it’s the best career move I have ever made.
My role within Interdobs is that I help customers with different topics around SAP BI, but with a strong focus on SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, which is an exciting new solution introduced at the end of 2019. I primarily have a technical focus and help customers integrating solutions into their existing IT infrastructure.
As an early adopter, I have gained a lot of knowledge and I advise customers how to move forward in their cloud journey. I always try to keep up to date with the latest innovations and I love to share this in demo sessions and proof of concepts with prospects.
Besides helping our customers on a day-to-day basis, doing presales activities, and contributing to the SAP Community, I’m also attending and speaking at various events like SAP TechEd and SAP Insider BI conferences to gain and share my knowledge and experience. It’s always great to meet and talk to people and share best practices.
Furthermore, I regularly engage with SAP Product Management and Developers — for instance, by attending partner workshops mostly in Walldorf or Paris. This is a great opportunity to really influence product development and express any concerns, but also share positive feedback. One of the great instruments available is submitting improvement requests via the SAP Influence portal. Together we can make the SAP products even better, so if you feel there is something missing or can be improved, please submit your improvement.
Where is Interdobs based? Are you from there originally?
Interdobs is based in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, actually quite close to the SAP office. From our headquarters, we serve our Dutch customers with their challenges related to SAP BI by providing consultancy and maintenance activities especially around SAP BW and SAP HANA.
I live in Arnhem, which is about a 45-minute drive from Interdobs. I’m moving mid-2020 to a different home together with my wife Manja and my three children: Stijn turned 12 last year and went to high school since last summer, Isa is 10 and started 7th grade, while Roos, who will turn 7 in May, joined 3rd grade after the summer break.
I was born and raised in Arnhem, a city with approximately 150,000 inhabitants. It’s great living there. It has all the facilities you need but it’s not crowded. It’s nicely located, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Martijn enjoying a weekend walk with his family
What about prior to Interdobs? Where did you work?
When I finished my student career in 2005 with graduating with a Master of Business Administration, I started with Capgemini in The Netherlands as a young professional. I started my career in BI by working with BusinessObjects tools prior to the acquisition by SAP. On my first project, I developed Web Intelligence reports and universes and I got involved in migration projects. There is where I gained profound knowledge on the architecture of the platform.
After a couple of years, I felt the urge to join a smaller company that was more focused on SAP BI and where I could work together with a group of senior colleagues to explore new things instead of doing the same things over and over again with new, less experienced co-workers. I joined Intenzz and stayed there until after the acquisition by SOA People in 2015. After a quick sidestep to Just-BI, I made the best career move ever: joining Interdobs.
The group of people working at Interdobs is highly skilled, enthusiastic, and the best out there. Rob Huisman and Leon Huijsmans really make sure Interdobs is your second home — not only for employees but for our families as well. The level of personal attention and commitment is overwhelming and something I never experienced anywhere before. And without doing other colleagues short, working with SAP Mentor R. Konijnenburg only makes you stronger. As our head of innovation, he always challenges you to deliver the best possible results.
The Interdobs team visiting SAP at Walldorf in 2018 — celebrating 12½ years of fun
The vast majority of your contributions are related to SAP Analytics Cloud. How did you become an expert in this area?
At the end of 2016, I started working for a customer that purchased SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, as it was called back then, to implement their monthly cost charging and allocation process. Shortly after, it was decided that the solution would also be used for BI, and I was asked to take the lead for all the activities related to integrate this cloud solution into the existing infrastructure.
This was the start of a journey that continues today, and I have to say we had quite some challenges as an early adopter of SAP Analytics Cloud. Especially in the early days, some basic features and functionalities were not so straightforward, and we worked closely with SAP by expressing our needs and providing input. This resulted in a lot of improvements, and I’m proud that, together with my colleague Xavier Hacking, we were able to achieve this. As a person and as Interdobs, we get a lot of recognition for the work we have done, both from the customer and from SAP, and I’m personally very proud of the existing solution, which is one of the biggest in the world in terms of tenants, users, and usage.
Engaging on this level with SAP obviously provides a lot of knowledge, which I obviously want to share with our community.
When did you join SAP Community and why did you sign up?
I would have to look this up, but I guess it would be more than 10 years ago. Although my current profiles states 2016, I have had several other accounts in the past which were not always migrated. In that light, the new SAP Universal ID is a great initiative because I have had so many accounts.
The reason why I signed up is easy. At first, I wanted to ask a couple of questions. Then I also started reading blogs, setting notifications, and following certain tags to get as much relevant information as possible to keep up to date. It’s a great source of information.
Looking at your contributions, it appears that you really became active starting in September of last year. What prompted you to do more in SAP Community?
Around TechEd last year, it become clear that you can really make a difference to the day-to-day work lives of people if you share your knowledge by answering questions. Something you may not realize is that sharing something which is obvious for you can make a difference. I also wanted to learn more about what kind of questions are out there. I use this information, along with input from our customers, in my discussion and sessions with people like Iver van der Zand, who is Vice President of Product Strategy – Augmented BI at SAP, to provide as much input as possible to improve the products and influence/steer product development priorities.
You seem to answer questions every single weekday. How have you managed to make SAP Community part of your daily work routine?
That’s quite easy. I follow a couple of tags and receive push email notifications, so I’m aware there are new questions. I try to take around 30 minutes once or twice a day to answer questions.
In addition to answering questions, you’ve also written a couple blog posts, and similar to most of your Q&A activity, the blogging started in the fall of last year. What gave you the urge to write those blog posts?
Honestly, I want to write much more technical blogs, but I just lack the time. On the site of Interdobs, I regularly publish less technical blogs but answering questions takes already some time. Back in 2017, I wrote an SAP Press book around Lumira Discovery together with Xavier Hacking, which was something I always wanted to do. Perhaps after that, my need to blog disappeared a bit. No, just kidding — it’s mainly a lack of time to get a couple of decent evergreen blogs out there.
Can we expect more?
Yes, hopefully I can increase the number of blogs published in 2020. I have published more blogs in the past under different accounts, which could not all be merged.
I’m going to be lazy here and copy a question I asked last month: “Since you recently did become more involved in the SAP Community, do you have any advice to members who might be reluctant to answer their first question or write their first blog post?”
Yes, definitely. Don’t be afraid or shy to click on reply and share your thoughts regarding a question or publish a blog. On the SAP Community, we value everybody’s replies, and I often learn from replies myself. So please remember your knowledge is valuable, and we need as much input as possible to build a strong community.
Time for the final question: What do you like to do in your downtime? Any hobbies or favorite activities?
Definitely. When I have some free time with a busy family life, I like running. I started at the beginning of 2019 and I’m exploring my limits competing in events once in a while. It’s great to set goals and train to reach them. You can follow me on Strava.
Furthermore, I like reading, especially car magazines, and I love watching Formula One supporting our rising star Max Verstappen. I have attended a couple of events in both Monaco and Austria, and it’s an amazing experience.
Martijn after the Diane Davis Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk at SAP TechEd 2019 in Las Vegas
And on that note…thanks so much for taking the time to chat. Congrats again for being February’s Member of the Month!
It’s has been a pleasure and it was fun talking to you, Jerry. Once again, I’m honored to be selected as Member of the Month, and it’s fun to tell everybody more about myself, my family, and the work at Interdobs.